7:00 PM ET, December 7, 2006
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Amber Holt's performance Thursday night -- 21 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists in 40 minutes -- was just what Georgia coach Andy Landers had in mind when he signed her to a scholarship last summer.The only trouble was that Holt did it for Middle Tennessee State, leading the Blue Raiders to a 70-62 upset of No. 8 Georgia.Holt, a Duluth, Ga., native who played at Meadowcreek High, signed last spring with Georgia after earning junior college All-America honors at Southeastern Illinois. But Holt's credits would not transfer and she ended up at Middle Tennessee.When Georgia (7-1) closed to within 54-52 with 6:36 to play, it was Holt who scored four straight baskets over a two-minute period to put Middle Tennessee (6-3) up 63-54 with 4:28 to play.Chrissy Givens, another 40-minute performer, led Middle Tennessee with 25 points. Cori Chambers scored 23 for Georgia."Middle Tennessee is a difficult team for us to match up with," Landers said. "They are essentially playing guards inside, and that creates some difficult matchups for us. Holt was a point guard in junior college, and she was playing the four (power forward)."The Blue Raiders' quickness forced 22 Georgia turnovers, including 12 by point guards Ashley Houts and Janese Hardrick."I am so proud of our young ladies," Blue Raiders coach Rick Insell said. "We're going to let them celebrate all the way back to Murfreesboro. We'll let them have a sandwich and a Coke on the bus, then put the screws to them at practice tomorrow."The Blue Raiders beat the Lady Bulldogs for the first time in 12 tries, but didn't sneak up on Georgia. Middle Tennessee made an impression in two previous games this year against Top 10 opponents, including an 88-64 loss to Tennessee last week and an 80-76 loss to No. 1 Maryland in the season opener."Georgia's got a great team," Insell said. "He's got a team that could win the national championship. Tonight was just our night."Houts shouldered the blame for the loss."We played timid tonight," said Houts. "I didn't take care of the ball."Chambers hit a 3-point basket 28 seconds into the half to put Georgia ahead 34-33, but it was the last time the Bulldogs led."It was easy to see our weaknesses tonight," Chambers said. "They were a pressing, swarming team, and they made it hard to pass to anybody."The loss left Landers questioning the way his team practices."We can't guard ourselves in practice like they guarded us tonight," Landers said. "We can't simulate this pressure in practice. I am having a hard time getting this team to be aggressive."The Blue Raiders mounted a 12-4 run to take a 49-40 lead with 11:24 to play after Holt hit a layup.Tasha Humphrey completed a 3-point play with 6:36 to go to bring Georgia to within 54-52, but that was as close as the Bulldogs got. Holt's four baskets sparked Middle Tennessee to a 63-54 lead with 4:28 to go.Georgia got to 67-62 when Angel Robinson put in a follow-up, but did not score again.Georgia bolted to an 11-5 lead, led by three baskets from Chambers. But Holt sandwiched a couple of baskets around a Givens layup to tie it 11-11 with 14:07 to go in the half, and the game remained tight until the break.Middle Tennessee forced Georgia into 12 first-half turnovers in building a 33-31 halftime lead. Georgia stayed in the game because of a 23-14 edge in rebounding and Middle Tennessee's 40 percent shooting.